Kelis is sampled on Beyoncé’s new album — and she’s not happy about that: ‘It’s theft’

Kelis arrives at the Secret Genius Awards at Vibiana on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Kelis, pictured at the 2017 Secret Genius Awards, called out Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” team for sampling her song.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision/Associated Press)

Passive aggressive, petty and stupid.

That’s how Kelis describes the way a sample of her song “Get Along With You” ended up on Beyoncé’s new album, “Renaissance.”

On Thursday, the R&B artist put the “Break My Soul” singer and producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo on blast after she learned they used a snippet of her 1999 hit for “Energy,” a song on “Renaissance,” without her knowledge.

In a pair of Instagram videos, the “Milkshake” hitmaker said the lack of contact from Beyoncé’s team was “stupid and disrespectful.”


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“The reality is that it’s frustrating. I have the right to be frustrated,” she said in the first video, just hours before Beyoncé’s new album is set to be released. “Why did no one have the human decency to call and be like ‘Yo, hey, [we] would like to use your record.’

“The reason why I’m annoyed is because I know it was on purpose. This was an on-purpose, direct hit.”

The controversy bubbled up on Monday when a Kelis fan account shared the track list for the album and its sampled artists. Fifth on the list was “Energy,” which credited Kelis and Teena Marie. Kelis, via her official cooking account @bountyandfull, revealed that the post was the first she had heard of the sample.

“My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved is astounding,” she wrote in the comments of the fan account’s post. “I heard about this the same way everyone else did. Nothing is ever as it seems, some of the people in this business have no soul or integrity and they have everyone fooled.”

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Kelis, who’s performing in the United Kingdom this week, further explained on Instagram that the “Energy “ sample wasn’t the first unsolicited use of her work. She said Beyoncé, along with many artists, “copied me before.” Reaching out for permission to use her music, however, shouldn’t have been difficult.

“The issue is, not only are we female artists, Black female artists in an industry — there’s not that many of us,” she said. “We’ve met each other, we know each other, we have mutual friends. It’s not hard. She can contact, right?”


She also clarified that Beyoncé isn’t the sole person to blame and name-dropped Pharrell and “Chad.” She was presumably referring to Chad Hugo, Pharrell’s partner in the songwriting and producing duo the Neptunes. In 1999, the pair produced Kelis’ “Get Along With You.”

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“Pharrell knows better. This is a direct hit at me. He does this all the time, it’s very petty,” she said, while insisting that she is not jealous of Beyoncé.

In another Instagram video, Kelis said she’s mainly taking issue with “hypocrisy” and “nonsense.” Still singling out Pharrell, she recalled how the producer previously spoke about artists’ rights in an interview. Additionally, she called out Beyoncé and her songs about empowerment.

“The reality is, all of this female empowerment, it only counts if you really do it,” she said. “If you’re really living it and walking the walk. Don’t just talk the talk.”

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Kelis also shot down a fan’s suggestion that Beyoncé’s “Energy” is a collaboration between the two artists: “It’s theft,” she said.

“It’s called thievery because ... the definition of collaboration, it means that we are working together,” she added. “There’s no working together if you are not even checking to see if everything’s cool.”


Kelis concluded by noting that her situation is part of a larger issue within the music industry that “happens to a lot of artists” all the time.

“I think that really something needs to change. And this just might be the fuel that I needed to actually do it, because honestly, I try to keep to myself and stay out of the drama,” she said. “But if it keeps coming to me, what else am I gonna do?”